Myanmar: Cyclone Giri deprives affected populations of harvest incomes

25 Nov 2010

Yangon - A category-four cyclone that struck Myanmar’s coastal Rakhine State on 22 October continues to affect the lives of some 260,000 people, according to assessments carried out by the humanitarian community in Myanmar.

 “UN agencies and international and national organizations on the ground are continuing their efforts to meet the needs of the affected population, in close cooperation with national authorities and the donor community,” said Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, during a briefing for international donors this week.

To date, a total of 1,718 metric tonnes of food have been distributed to nearly 200,000 beneficiaries in the four worst-affected townships. Substantial support has also been provided in emergency shelter, water and sanitation, education, health and nutrition and rebuilding of livelihoods.

Recent assessments show that at least 20,000 houses were completely destroyed by the cyclone, leaving more than 101,000 people homeless in the townships of Kyaukpyu, Myebon, Minbya and Pauktaw. In addition to massive destruction of houses, approximately 150 schools were completely destroyed and numerous water sources contaminated.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Cyclone Giri also totally or partially destroyed more than 50 percent of all crops planted by farmers, resulting in a loss of nearly 190,000 metric tonnes of paddy.

In much of Rakhine State, rice can only be grown once a year and is an essential part of the local economy, providing employment for landless labourers, and both cash and food for farmers. The disaster also put long-term food security at high risk with many rice banks flooded, and rice stocks and paddies destroyed.

“Looking ahead, what we need to do is ensure people and communities get back on their feet and are actively involved in their recovery. Unless support for livelihoods and agriculture is forthcoming, people will continue to depend on relief aid,” said Parajuli.

UNDP livelihoods assessments show an estimated 86,000 farming households and 7,500 fishing households vulnerable to food insecurity, contributing to already poor nutrition levels among the affected population.

Preliminary results of a nutrition assessment, conducted jointly by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, indicate that 400 severely malnourished and 4,000 moderately malnourished babies and infants aged 6-59 months are in need of therapeutic and supplementary feeding in four affected townships.

The findings also indicate that 18,000 children are likely to develop acute malnutrition if the current situation does not improve.

Total estimated needs for emergency relief and early recovery are approximately US$53 million, of which US$ 18 million has been mobilized, thanks to support from various donors, UN agencies and programmes. The biggest funding needs are in the livelihoods and agriculture sectors.

Contact Information

The United Nations in Myanmar

Esben Q. Harboe Special Assistant to the UN RC/HC
Tel: +95 9 5074853, esben.harboe@undp.org

Aye Win National Information Officer, UNIC
Tel: +95 9 5123952, aye.win@undp.org